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Image forming apparatus and waste toner conveying device incorporated in same

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Image forming apparatus and waste toner conveying device incorporated in same


An image forming apparatus includes a waste toner conveying device including a primary conveyor to convey waste toner discharged from a plurality of primary cleaners and a secondary conveyor to convey waste toner discharged from a secondary cleaner. A relay conveyor conveys the waste toner discharged from the primary conveyor and the secondary conveyor. A waste toner container receives the waste toner discharged from the relay conveyor. The primary conveyor, the secondary conveyor, and the relay conveyor are disposed at one end of the image forming apparatus in a front-to-rear direction thereof. A secondary conveyor outlet of the secondary conveyor is disposed below a primary conveyor outlet of the primary conveyor and above an inlet of the waste toner container.

Browse recent Ricoh Company, Ltd. patents - Ohta-ku, Tokyo, JP
USPTO Applicaton #: #20140010579 - Class: 399358 (USPTO) -
Electrophotography > Cleaning Of Imaging Surface >Having Handling Of Removed Material

Inventors: Kaoru Yoshino, Satoshi Hatori, Naohiro Kumagai, Akira Fujimori, Hideyasu Seki, Ryohta Gotoh

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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20140010579, Image forming apparatus and waste toner conveying device incorporated in same.

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CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This patent application is based on and claims priority pursuant to 35 U.S.C. §119 to Japanese Patent Application No. 2012-150222, filed on Jul. 4, 2012, in the Japanese Patent Office, the entire disclosure of which is hereby incorporated by reference herein.

BACKGROUND

1. Field

Example embodiments generally relate to an image forming apparatus and a waste toner conveying device, and more particularly, to an image forming apparatus for forming a toner image and a waste toner conveying device for conveying waste toner that is installed in the image forming apparatus.

2. Discussion of the Background

Related-art image forming apparatuses, such as copiers, facsimile machines, printers, or multifunction printers having two or more of copying, printing, scanning, facsimile, plotter, and other functions, typically form an image on a recording medium according to image data.

Thus, for example, a charger uniformly charges a surface of each of a plurality of photoconductive drums; an optical writer emits a light beam onto the charged surface of the respective photoconductive drums to form an electrostatic latent image on the respective photoconductive drums according to the image data; a development device supplies toner to the electrostatic latent image formed on the respective photoconductive drums to render the electrostatic latent image visible as a toner image; the toner images formed on the photoconductive drums are primarily transferred onto an intermediate transfer belt to form a color toner image thereof; the color toner image is secondarily transferred onto a recording medium; finally, a fixing device applies heat and pressure to the recording medium bearing the color toner image to fix the color toner image on the recording medium, thus forming the color toner image on the recording medium.

Such image forming apparatuses may include the plurality of photoconductive drums aligned below the intermediate transfer belt. After the primary transfer of the toner images formed on the plurality of photoconductive drums onto the intermediate transfer belt, a plurality of primary cleaners removes residual toner failed to be transferred onto the intermediate transfer belt and therefore remaining on the photoconductive drums therefrom, respectively. The removed toner is discharged from the primary cleaners and collected into a waste toner container as waste toner. Additionally, after the secondary transfer of the color toner image formed on the intermediate transfer belt onto the recording medium, a secondary cleaner removes residual toner failed to be transferred onto the recording medium and therefore remaining on the intermediate transfer belt therefrom. The removed toner is discharged from the secondary cleaner and collected into the waste toner container as waste toner.

For example, the waste toner discharged from the primary cleaners is conveyed through a primary conveyor pipe in communication with a primary inlet of the waste toner container that is situated in proximity to the front of the image forming apparatus. Conversely, the waste toner discharged from the secondary cleaner is conveyed through a secondary conveyor pipe in communication with a secondary inlet of the waste toner container that is situated in proximity to the rear of the image forming apparatus. Thus, the waste toner removed from the plurality of photoconductive drums and the waste toner removed from the intermediate transfer belt are collected into the identical waste toner container through the separate conveyor pipes and inlets, respectively.

The primary conveyor pipe that conveys the waste toner discharged from the primary cleaners is situated in proximity to the front of the image forming apparatus to communicate with the primary inlet of the waste toner container that is also situated in proximity to the front of the image forming apparatus. Conversely, the secondary conveyor pipe that conveys the waste toner discharged from the secondary cleaner is situated in proximity to the rear of the image forming apparatus to communicate with the secondary inlet of the waste toner container that is also situated in proximity to the rear of the image forming apparatus.

Accordingly, the front, primary conveyor pipe and the rear, secondary conveyor pipe sandwich the photoconductive drums and the intermediate transfer belt in the front-to-rear direction of the image forming apparatus, upsizing the image forming apparatus in the front-to-rear direction thereof.

Additionally, since the waste toner container has the two inlets, that is, the primary inlet in communication with the primary conveyor pipe and the secondary inlet in communication with the secondary conveyor pipe, two shutters and seals are attached to the two inlets, respectively, increasing manufacturing costs of the waste toner container.

SUMMARY

At least one embodiment may provide an image forming apparatus that includes a plurality of image carriers to carry a toner image; an intermediate transferor, disposed opposite the plurality of image carriers, to receive the toner image transferred from each of the plurality of image carriers and to be transferred onto a recording medium; a plurality of primary cleaners, disposed opposite the plurality of image carriers, to remove waste toner failed to be transferred onto the intermediate transferor from the plurality of image carriers respectively; a secondary cleaner, disposed opposite the intermediate transferor, to remove waste toner failed to be transferred onto the recording medium from the intermediate transferor; and a waste toner conveying device connected to the plurality of primary cleaners and the secondary cleaner to convey the waste toner discharged from the plurality of primary cleaners and the secondary cleaner. The waste toner conveying device includes a primary conveyor, disposed below and connected to the plurality of primary cleaners, to convey the waste toner discharged from the plurality of primary cleaners. The primary conveyor includes a primary conveyor outlet through which the waste toner is discharged from the primary conveyor. A secondary conveyor, disposed below and connected to the secondary cleaner, to convey the waste toner discharged from the secondary cleaner, includes a secondary conveyor outlet through which the waste toner is discharged from the secondary conveyor. A relay conveyor, in communication with the primary conveyor outlet of the primary conveyor and the secondary conveyor outlet of the secondary conveyor, conveys the waste toner discharged from the primary conveyor and the secondary conveyor. A waste toner container includes an inlet in communication with the relay conveyor to receive the waste toner discharged from the relay conveyor. The primary conveyor, the secondary conveyor, and the relay conveyor are disposed at one end of the image forming apparatus in a front-to-rear direction thereof. The secondary conveyor outlet is disposed below the primary conveyor outlet and above the inlet of the waste toner container.

At least one embodiment may provide a waste toner conveying device for conveying waste toner conveyed from a plurality of primary cleaners and a secondary cleaner. The waste toner conveying device includes a primary conveyor, disposed below and connected to the plurality of primary cleaners, to convey the waste toner discharged from the plurality of primary cleaners. The primary conveyor includes a primary conveyor outlet through which the waste toner is discharged. A secondary conveyor, disposed below and connected to the secondary cleaner, conveys the waste toner discharged from the secondary cleaner. The secondary conveyor includes a secondary conveyor outlet through which the waste toner is discharged. A relay conveyor, in communication with the primary conveyor outlet of the primary conveyor and the secondary conveyor outlet of the secondary conveyor, conveys the waste toner discharged from the primary conveyor and the secondary conveyor. A waste toner container includes an inlet in communication with the relay conveyor to receive the waste toner discharged from the relay conveyor. The secondary conveyor outlet is disposed below the primary conveyor outlet and above the inlet of the waste toner container.

Additional features and advantages of example embodiments will be more fully apparent from the following detailed description, the accompanying drawings, and the associated claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A more complete appreciation of example embodiments and the many attendant advantages thereof will be readily obtained as the same becomes better understood by reference to the following detailed description when considered in connection with the accompanying drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a schematic vertical sectional view of an image forming apparatus according to an example embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a vertical sectional view of a process cartridge installed in the image forming apparatus shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a perspective sectional view of a waste toner conveying device incorporated in the image forming apparatus shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a partial vertical sectional view of the waste toner conveying device shown in FIG. 3;

FIG. 5A is a vertical sectional view of a waste toner container incorporated in the waste toner conveying device shown in FIG. 4; and

FIG. 5B is a vertical sectional view of another waste toner container as a variation of the waste toner container shown in FIG. 5A.



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Previous Patent Application:
Fixing device and image forming apparatus including same
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Image forming apparatus
Industry Class:
Electrophotography
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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20140010579 A1
Publish Date
01/09/2014
Document #
13920571
File Date
06/18/2013
USPTO Class
399358
Other USPTO Classes
International Class
03G21/00
Drawings
6



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